Saturday, October 13, 2007

Peter Jaffe Never Kissed Me (Even if I Told My Diary That He Did)

Scribbled in my tattered diary in bright pink glittery ink, in my very 7th grade handwriting on the day labeled (in gold letters) March 7, 1970, are the words "Peter Jaffe kissed me."

Peter Jaffe, in his forest green turtleneck sweater and his straight, smooth hair combed low over his right eye, was not only the very best looking 8th grade boy at Berkeley's Willard Junior High School, he was also the extremely talented concertmaster violinist of the school orchestra. As a lowly 7th grade flautist, I dared not speak to Peter -- but I knew everything about him, from his class schedule, to his favorite lunch food in the school cafeteria, to his home address and bus route number.

I adored and idolized Peter and would run from my third period science class to fourth period orchestra, just so I could hear him warm up, playing lively scales and excerpts from really difficult pieces that he practiced for his roll as concertmaster to the regional youth symphony. Sometimes Peter was asked by our conductor and teacher, Mr. Weyerhauser, to be a guest conductor and on those days I could barely contain my adoration for him, as he would smile (oh, if only it were at me!) as he raised his baton, his entire head of hair flowing, almost in slow motion, from side to side.

Yes, Peter Jaffe was just about as close to perfection as one could be, and even when the end of the year approached and I knew he'd be going on to high school, my crush had not waned. But the next year we moved an hour away and my thoughts slowly moved on to other boys -- boys who I did talk to, and a few of whom eventually did kiss me.

Years later, between college and graduate school, when I worked at a bank near the Stanford campus, I came across the name Peter Jaffe while filing checks, and my heart immediately skipped a beat. Could it be the same Peter? That night I flipped through a friend's Stanford Student Directory and there it was: Peter was a student in the school's music department! The next day, as I was preparing to send monthly statements (which we did by hand then), I scribbled a note to Peter. It began with "You probably don't remember me..." I slipped it into his statement, along with his checks and hoped that he'd read it and come into the bank to finally (finally!) speak to me, if only to say hello.

He never did.

Years passed. I married, had four children and watched them grow up. One day, just two years ago while I was visiting my father, he asked, "Didn't you know a violinist in junior high school named Peter Jaffe?"

"Well, I knew of him. And I had a massive crush on him. But I don't think I ever actually even spoke to him," I finally admitted. "Why?"

"He's coming to town next week, conducting a chamber group," said my father, who volunteers with his town's symphony and music programs. "Would you like me to say hello for you?" he asked as he handed me a long bio on Peter Jaffe who, it turns out, is now the conductor of a city orchestra in California. ("He lives with his wife and twin sons...")

"Yes!" I replied. "And give him this!" I scribbled another note, 20-some years after the first one. "You probably don't remember me..." it began.

My father handed Peter the note during intermission, but I never heard from him.

I have a feeling that as he read both notes, he was thinking, 'Whhhhoooooo? Who is this Carol person?'

Which is just so deeply insulting, considering that, according to my faithful and trustworthy (and fantasy and imagination-laden) diary, he kissed me on March 7, 1970.

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Anonymous said...

I live in CA and wondered where PJaffe was music director and so I googled him.. There he is Maestro Peter Jaffe. He was speaking at a museum. It said 'post-talk questions are welcome.' You'll have to get to one of his talks someday and your question could start with 'You probably don't remember me...'

Anonymous said...

There is no good reason for me to come across your web entry on Peter. The reality is that I am just spending a lazy Sunday Googling my family and seeing what comes up.

For you see, Peter Jaffe is my first cousin.

Peter is a year younger than I am. But before, during and after the era of your crush, I came down to visit him and his family from my Seattle home quite frequently. We are still very close.

As teens, we joked about him then as being "Perfect Peter" and his perfection ran to a great sense of humor and even self-deprecation. It did seem like the sun shone down on him while rain drenched us mere mortals, but he bore it well.

The years have been good to Peter. He does have a warm, brilliant and accomplished wife, three terrific kids, and a career in music which is deeply satisfying.

But teenage romantic fantasies are just that... fantasies. Peter is in a position where adoration comes with the territory. So his capacity to engage the curiosities of acolytes is limited. So I write to thank you for your whimsy with my cuz - you have brightened my day - and to give back a little detail in what must always remain your unresolved fantasy.



Carol said...

Hi Daniel,

I figured one day either Peter or someone he knew would come across this entry! Nice to "meet" you, fellow Seattle-ite!

Please say hello to you cuz Peter for me and let him know that, should he come to visit you in Seattle, I'd love to have coffee with him. Yes, I am happily married... and no, our son Peter wasn't named after him! :-) But there's nothing like a girls first crush, ya know? (And I have always felt that having a first crush of such high caliber paved the way for my expectations always being high. Thanks Peter!)


Anonymous said...

Alas, Carol, your decennial unrequited efforts to contact Peter will remain unfulfilled; at least through me. Lilly is correct, though. The internet allows you to look up his whereabouts, attend his concert, and gush poetic with him in front of, say, 500 people.

On the other hand, there is something noble and even romantic, about never seeing him again.
Just smiling broadly, breathing deeply, and sighing may be as good as it is possible to get under these circumstances.

PS: Sorry about your mom. Take good care.


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